*The Broadway musical based on songs of late rap icon Tupac Shakur has drawn mixed reviews following its official opening on Thursday (June 19).
Director Kenny Leon, who just won a Tony for his revival of A Raisin In the Sun, put staged the non-biographical Holler If Ya Hear Me with the blessing of Tupac’s estate executor and mom Afeni Shakur.
Its launch at New York’s Palace Theatre on Thursday had critics split down the middle.
The New York Daily News’ Joe Dziemianowicz praises lead actor Saul Williams’ portrayal of John, a self-taught artist who attempts to stay out of trouble after being released from prison, branding his performance “magnetic.”
However, Dziemianowicz points out the “predictability” of the show’s storyline, despite a “vibrant, raw and rousing” production – sentiments echoed by critics for both Variety and The New York Times.
The Times’ Charles Isherwood insists the “beats are sweet, and the words often have an electric charge,” but claims the “ambitious” show feels “heavy-handed.” The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney was less than impressed, dismissing the show as “misconceived” and “destined to fall on deaf ears.”